The New York Giants are one of the most historic franchises in the history of the league as they enter their 92nd season in the NFL. They have won eight league championships including four Lombardi trophies since the beginning of the Super Bowl era. Despite not making the playoffs for the entire decade of the 1970’s, the Giants have been one of the league’s most successful franchises to date.
New York has been no stranger to the playoffs over the last fifteen years, making the dance a total of seven times and becoming the only team to beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl (Twice). Although the Giants have seen success through stellar play through quarterbacks Phil Simms and Eli Manning, they have historically not drafted well in the first round. Before Odell Beckham Jr. arrived three years ago, the team’s most successful first round pick was Eli Manning ten years prior.
If it had not been for late round success and free agency, the Giants would not have the success that most people attach to their name today. If given the opportunity, it is almost certain the front office would have made some significant changes regarding who they thought were first round talent. It is almost scary to think how many Super Bowls they could have won if they had better success in the first round of recent drafts. If it had not been for two unbelievable catches in their two Super Bowl wins with Eli Manning, then they wouldn’t even be mentioned with the top tier of team’s in the league.
Here is what the Giants should have done in the first round over their last 15 first round picks:
15 Reggie Wayne (2001)
Original Pick: Will Allen, 22nd pick
Coming off on the wrong end of arguably the biggest blow out in Super Bowl history, the Giants attempted to fix the back end of their defense early in the draft by selecting corner back Will Allen with the 22nd pick. Allen proved to be a strong selection early on when he recorded four interceptions his rookie season. However, the Giants never saw any progress in his game and released him after just five years with the team. Allen went on to start five more years with the Miami Dolphins as primarily as their second corner.
Instead of an average corner, the team could have had a sure fire Hall of Fame receiver in Reggie Wayne. Wayne was selected 30th overall by the Indianapolis Colts and quickly became one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets for the next fourteen seasons. Wayne will soon become enshrined in the Hall of Fame, while Will Allen is hardly remembered around the league.
14 Ed Reed (2002)
Original Pick: Jeremy Shockey, 14th pick
Besides Michael Strahan breaking the record for sacks in a season, not much went right for the New York Giants during the 2001 season. The team addressed their weak spot at tight end when they selected Jeremy Shockey out of the University of Miami. Shockey proved to be a reliable target for Giant quarterbacks for his six years with the team. He caught 27 touchdowns as the teams top tight end before joining the Saints in 2008.
With such a successful defensive line already in place, the team could have tightened up their secondary this year with one of the best safeties in the history of the league. Ed Reed was selected 24th overall and went on to tally 64 career interceptions along with 7 career touchdowns.
13 Anquan Boldin (2003)
Original Pick: William Joseph, 25th pick
The Giants capped the 2002 season losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card game during one of the greatest come backs in NFL Playoff history. After suffering such a difficult loss, the team decided to play it conservative in the draft and selected defensive tackle William Joseph from the University of Miami. Joseph is the first person on this list who can be labeled as a bust after his four seasons with the team totaling only 7 sacks during that time.
Outside of Amani Toomer, there were no proven wide receivers on the outside for the Giants. Anquan Boldin would have fit in perfect with the Giants, but instead was taken 54th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Boldin spent seven seasons with Arizona and had five 1,000 yard receiving seasons with the team. He is also one of a few men to still be playing today from the 2003 draft.
12 Philip Rivers (2004)
Original Pick: Philip Rivers, 4th pick
After starting the season with a record of 4-4, the Giants lost their remaining eight games and found themselves picking fourth in the 2004 NFL draft. The Giants ended up with their franchise quarterback to this day after they swapped draft selections with the San Diego Chargers and gave them their first round pick in 2005. The Chargers ended up with Philip Rivers, while the Giants have had Eli Manning running their offense for the last 13 seasons.
Eli Manning is currently the active NFL leader with most consecutive games played with 192. Along with that statistic, Manning has proven to be the perfect quarterback for New York with his nonchalant attitude towards the media. He has also cemented the Giants place in history as the only team to beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl when he did it in the 2007-2008 season and the 2011-2012 season.
11 Devin Hester (2006)
Original Pick: Mathias Kiwanuka, 32nd pick
With their quarterback position now solidified, the Giants made their mark on the NFC finishing 11-5 but losing to the Carolina Panthers in the 1st round of the playoffs. With the last pick in the first round, the Giants selected defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka from Boston College. Kiwanuka played all nine of his NFL seasons with the Giants totaling 38.5 career sacks, but never reached more than eight in a season. He is often remembered as the guy who let go of Vince Young when the play was not blown dead.
Now it is hard to blame the Giants for not taking Devin Hester because he was unknown to most of the league. The Chicago Bears took a chance on Hester when they selected the defensive back 57th overall. Although he rarely saw snaps on defense, he quickly became the best return man in the history of the game. He holds the NFL record for career punt returns for touchdowns with 14 as well as the first player to take the opening kickoff in the Super Bowl for a touchdown.
10 Joe Staley (2007)
Original Pick: Aaron Ross, 20th pick
Following a game winning field goal by David Akers in wild card weekend, the Giants were sent home early by the Philadelphia Eagles. New York once again attempted to straighten out there secondary by taking cornerback Aaron Ross with the 20th pick in the draft. Ross played just one full season with the G men due to injuries and recorded just 11 career interceptions before retiring in 2014.
Instead of selecting another failed cornerback, now would have been the time to give Eli Manning protection on the outside. Even though Manning never missed a game, he seemed to always be getting hit from all aspects of the field. Joe Staley has been the lone bright spot for the 49ers over recent years and has spent his entire ten year career with the team. Since being selected 28th overall, Staley has been a five time Pro Bowler.
9 Jordy Nelson (2008)
Original Pick: Kenny Phillips, 31st pick
The New York Giants achieved astonishing status that is still remembered today when they beat the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII on a last minute touchdown from Eli Manning to receiver Plaxico Burress. Following the retirement of Michael Strahan, the team elected to improve the safety position when they took Kenny Phillips of Miami University. Phillips was an average player, but never proved to be the 1st round talent the Giants thought he was.
The Giants must still be kicking themselves for allowing Jordy Nelson to slip through their finger tips. Nelson was selected 36th overall by the Green Bay Packers and has been Aaron Rodgers favorite target for the past nine seasons. After the absence of Plaxico Burress, Nelson could have developed an immediate connection with Eli Manning.
8 LeSean McCoy (2009)
Original Pick: Hakeem Nicks, 29th pick
With their best attempt at avoiding a Super Bowl hangover, the Giants finished the regular season as the best seed in the NFC. Unfortunately they came out stagnant against the Philadelphia Eagles in a divisional playoff game. The Giants finally attempted to address their need at receiver when they selected Hakeem Nicks from North Carolina. Nicks showed initial success achieving 1,000 yards during his second year in the league, but never showed the consistency that Burress gave Manning for many years.
When Tiki Barber retired after the 2006 season, the Giants have since been a using a running back by committee philosophy. With this system, Manning has been forced to drop back to throw 40-50 times a game. They could have instead used the Eagles all-time rushing leader in their backfield when they selected him 53rd overall. He quickly became one of the most elusive backs in the league from the start of his career. With him relieving stress from Manning, there is no telling what the Giants could have accomplished.
7 Maurkice Pouncey (2010)
Original Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul, 15th pick
The New York Giants started the 2009 seasons with a 5-0 mark, but lost 8 of their last 11 games landing them the 15th pick in the 2010 draft. The team selected defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul from South Florida expecting him to fill the void Strahan left several years back. Paul made his presence felt after his second season totaling 16.5 sacks to go with 65 total tackles. Despite early success, Paul never reached his career high in sacks again and will be remembered as the guy who blew off his fingers on the 4th of July.
Maurkice Pouncey would have been a much smarter pick for the Giants and would have given Eli even more protection on the offensive line. Pouncey was drafted 18th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers and has helped pave the way for Leveon Bell to become the elite runner he is today.
6 Cameron Jordan (2011)
Original Pick: Prince Amukamara, 19th pick
Even with the improved record of 10-6, the Giants failed to reach the playoffs for the second straight season. For the 3rd time on this list, the Giants used a 1st round pick on a failed cornerback. The Giants selected Prince Amukamara 19th overall, hoping once again for a shut down corner on the outside. Instead, they were given inconsistent play and injuries leading to his release in 2015.
Just five picks later, the New Orleans Saints selected linebacker Cameron Jordan from the University of California. Jordan has been one of the lone bright spots for the New Orleans defense over recent years. He has never missed an NFL start since entering the league and has totaled 46.5 sacks at the young age of 27.
5 Alshon Jeffery (2012)
Original Pick: David Wilson, 32nd pick
After a four year absence, the Giants returned to the Super Bowl in the 2011-2012 season and defeated Tom Brady for his second Super Bowl loss. The Giants lost one of their starting running backs in Ahmad Bradshaw to free agency in the offseason and finally addressed the need by selecting David Wilson 32nd overall. Wilson had an unfortunate end to his career during his second NFL season when he sustained a life threatening neck injury and was forced to retire.
Even though the Giants were in need of a running back, in hindsight it is too difficult to pass on a talent like Alshon jeffery. Jeffery caught 22 touchdowns in his first five seasons with the Bears despite inconsistent quarterback play from Jay Cutler. Jeffery could have been the number one target that Nicks could never be.
4 Tyler Eifert (2013)
Original Pick: Justin Pugh, 19th pick
The defending Super Bowl champs equaled their record in 2011, but could not make their way back into the playoffs in 2012. Inconsistency all across the roster led the team to their 19th pick in the draft. Thinking better protection was the answer for the offense, New York selected offensive tackle Justin Pugh from Syracuse. There was nothing really wrong with taking Pugh in what was considered a weak draft class, but more explosive players were still available on the board.
Since the release of Jeremy Shockey in 2007, the Giants have lacked any major production from the tight end position. Tyler Eifert from the University of Notre Dame would fit that bill perfectly. After missing the majority of his second season due to injuries, Eifert bounced back in 2015 with 13 receiving touchdowns. Although he has caught the injury bug early in his career, Eifert’s potential as a dynamic tight end can instantly make an offense better.
3 Odell Beckham Jr. (2014)
Original Pick: Odell Beckham Jr., 12th pick
Finally, the Giants were able to make a draft selection that was the right decision by most people’s standards. The 2014 draft class was loaded with wide receiver talent and the Giants may have ended up with the best one of the bunch. They selected Odell Beckham Jr. 12th overall out of LSU. During his senior year at LSU, Beckham caught 58 passes for 1,152 yards and 8 touchdowns. It wasn’t until half way through his rookie season that he became known as the mega star that he is today.
Against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Beckham caught a deep pass from Eli Manning behind his head with just three fingers. Many people across the league have called it the best catch they have ever seen live. Even without that catch, Beckham has proven his worth to the Giants franchise with 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first three years with the team as well as 35 touchdowns.
2 Marcus Peters (2015)
Original Pick: Ereck Flowers, 9th pick
The New York Giants suffered their second consecutive losing season in 2014 when they compiled a record of 6-10. Just like previous years, when the Giants reach a high pick in the draft, they go after offensive lineman. With the 9th pick of the 2015 draft, the New York Giants selected Ereck Flowers from the University of Miami. Flowers is another case where he has done nothing to standout. He has been average during his brief time with the team.
With the frequency that the Giants draft corners, it was shocking that they did not take a chance on Marcus Peters. Peters has been labeled a shut down corner by many since being taken 18th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. He has 14 interceptions in his two years with the team which is more than any corner that the Giants have taken in the first round over recent years.
1 Laremy Tunsil (2016)
Original Pick: Eli Apple, 10th pick
The Giants found themselves with a losing record for the 3rd straight season in 2015 with a record of 6-10. The chemistry between Manning and Beckham continued to grow, but it wasn’t enough to lead them to their first playoff berth since 2011. The team selected their 5th cornerback in the first round on this list when they took Eli Apple 10th overall. As a rookie, he has showed promise to be a successful corner but their track record says otherwise.
Laremy Tunsil was expected to be a top five prospect heading into the 2016 draft until a picture broke the internet hours before the draft of him smoking weed. He fell significantly until the Miami Dolphins took a chance on him at number 13. Tunsil has the most to prove from the draft class of 2016 and he expects the teams who passed on him to regret that decision in years to come.